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The finance minister has written to Grealish and asked him to clarify his remarks.

Minister writes to Grealish asking him to clarify 'apparent ethnic basis' of Nigerian money statement

The Galway West TD singled out Nigeria while raising questions in the Dáil about money being sent out of Ireland.

FINANCE MINISTER PASCHAL Donohoe has written to Independent TD Noel Grealish asking him to clarify “the apparent ethnic basis” of his statement on Nigerian remittances. 

The Galway West TD singled out Nigeria while raising questions in the Dáil about money being sent out of Ireland.  

He was accused of engaging in “disgraceful racism” after seeking reassurance from Varadkar that funds being sent in remittance by foreign nationals were not proceeds of crime. 

Grealish told the House that he wanted to bring the Taoiseach’s attention to “the amount of money that is being transferred out of Ireland in personal remittances”.

Quoting figures he said came from the World Bank, Grealish said: “over the past 8 years alone over €10 billion has left this country by way of personal transfers, this is a staggering amount of money.”

The World Bank later clarified that remittance estimates from Ireland to Nigeria are not reliable. 

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) also confirmed that from 2010 to 2017, an average of €17 million a year was transferred from Ireland to Nigeria. 

In a letter published on the department’s website this morning, Donohoe outlines how Revenue monitors cash leaving the country.

“I am disappointed with the apparent ethnic basis of your statements and would welcome any steps that you would be willing to take to clarify on this aspect. It is inappropriate to single out one country in the absence of evidence of wrong-doing,” said the minister. 

He also added that had Grealish had questions about the information provided to him on the matter in a parliamentary question, and if he felt the figures were “misleading” then there are procedures in place to “challenge the figures”. 

After outlining all the methods in which Revenue keeps tabs on the money leaving the State, Donohoe said he is “satisfied that the appropriate framework is in place to ensure the money leaving the country comes from legitimate sources and the appropriate level of tax are paid”.

“As I previously indicated, if you have any evidence of any wrongdoing in relation to remittances going to Nigeria or any other country, I strongly advise you to bring it to the attention of An Garda Síochana,” the minister told Grealish, adding that he intended to publish this letter as it is a matter of public interest. 

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